Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Deer Downtown

You can't catch a bus in this town without running into a gang of deer.  The resident woodpecker is the animal I see most often on campus, rabbits more rarely.  Admittedly, this photograph is more mid-town than downtown, but the setting is next to a road as busy as they get in this province (of fewer than 5 million people).

The Legend of Snow Beach (Raekwon)

Monday, 22 June 2015

Last of the White Elephants (a story, though non-fiction)

Some "creative non-fiction" about lives lived in Laos, etc.
"I remember one guy who had been living 'in character' quite thoroughly, even using a false name along the lines of Jack Smith.  He presented himself regularly at the fruit-juice shop downstairs from my apartment in Vientiane, making a consistent effort to hit on the waitress there.  He was always 'dressed up' by the standards of a third-world, tropical country, in a nondescript shirt and tie.  In Laos, the long-sleeve dress shirt was a mark of distinction for a foreigner: it signaled that the man wearing it was not a tourist, and perhaps even had a job.  Simply not being a tourist moved a man from the category of a possible short-term affair into consideration as marriage material."

Saturday, 20 June 2015

In Japan, (Almost) Nobody is Ever "Not Guilty"

In an earlier post on this blog (click), I drew attention to the peculiar fact that the Japanese court system finds so few people not guilty that the acquittal rate seemingly cannot be measured as a percentage (secondary sources reported 99.9% conviction-rates, etc.).  However, I wasn't satisfied until I'd seen breakdown of the categories used by the Japanese government, as it wasn't clear to what extent "not guilty" (in an informal sense) might overlap with other categories in the data.  In Canada's case (as noted in my earlier blog-post) a very low rate of acquittal is counterbalanced to some extent by a significant number of cases "dismissed, stayed or withdrawn" (i.e., the later category is not equivalent to being acquitted, but it helps to explain the low rate of cases found "not guilty", as the Canadian system tends to dismiss cases in mid-trial).  Could that be the case for Japan?  No, evidently not.

The primary-source data from the Japanese government affirms the grounds for concern that I saw in various secondary sources.  In 2004, only 113 persons were found "not guilty" (and this was a relatively high number, with just 54 persons acquitted in 1996, etc.); this number is indeed so low that it will not be visible in a pie chart, i.e., as a portion of the total number of verdicts (n = 95,699 in 2004).  Unlike the Canadian statistics, the number of dismissals is --likewise-- shockingly low.

Cold War Consequences (Youtube Commentary)

Some commentary on the Cold War and its consequences in Asia: Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, South Korea, and so on, with the Chagos Islanders appearing as a (sad) contrast to the (already sad) fate of Okinawa.

The link:

This was recorded on a day when I woke up at 5:30 AM, and wrote a Japanese test at 8:30.  I didn't do very well on the test, either.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Minor Ironies in the Life of a Former Pali Scholar

How many people (alive, in 2015) can read enough basic Pali to get the "punchline" at the bottom of this image?  Worse, is anyone counting?

Friday, 5 June 2015

The Kets of Siberia and Canada's First Nations

Ancient connections and new:
If you only have two minutes to spend on the subject, that link will take you to the moment in Edward Vajda's lecture when he makes the (inevitable) comparison between Stalin's policy of assimilation (through residential schools) and what unfolded in Canada.

Of course, if you have more than two minutes, the rest of the lecture is, also, worth hearing.